Theses and Dissertations FAQs
An ETD is an Electronic Thesis or Dissertation, which allows for the creation, submission, and dissemination of post-graduate research in digital form. The components and structure of an ETD are essentially the same as a traditional paper thesis/dissertation. It should be noted that the thesis/dissertation is an artefact of the examination process and it is not a publication or publishing.
Articles, books, theses and dissertations are said to be ‘open access’ when they are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." By making the ETD open access, the ETD is made available to the widest audience possible in repositories, such as OpenUCT. Visibility is enhanced as anyone with access to the internet can view and download your thesis/dissertation.
In June 2014, UCT adopted an Open Access Policy, which showed its commitment to preserving the scholarly work of UCT scholars and making this scholarship discoverable, visible and freely available online to anyone who seeks it. The delegated authority to manage the implementation of the Policy is UCT Libraries.
UCT has an institutional repository, called OpenUCT. The repository is the collection of the research and teaching output of the institution and is freely available online. The express purpose is to share UCT’s scholarly output with the widest audience possible.
- A persistent link is automatically assigned to the thesis file, which will not change and can be used in an e-mail signature, added to a CV or added on social networking sites, such as ResearchGate and Academica.edu.
- ETDs are easily discovered in search engines like Google Scholar or Yahoo and are fully indexed.
- Creative possibilities are expanded, since more vivid diagrams, maps, hyperlinks, audio, video, animation, etc. can be incorporated into the document.
Copyright is the law of authorship. Under copyright owners control the reproduction, distribution, performance and display of their works. A wide range of works can be copyrighted: literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, sculptural works, motion pictures, sound recordings and computer code.
As the author of your thesis/dissertation, you own the copyright, and making your ETD available in OpenUCT will not change that. Although the student retains copyright, in terms of the Open Access Policy, UCT is granted the right to publish your ETD in the repository (Rule GP8).
The ETD will be deferred or a prescribed period of up to 24 months before it is available in full text in the repository. However, the metadata and the abstract will be available immediately after graduation. When IP protection is required, an amended abstract that will not compromise IP should be provided by the candidate and his/her supervisor. Read more in the Guidelines for OpenUCT, item 3 (iii).
Most students will want to make their ETD available as soon, and as widely, as possible, but some may want to delay or limit their release. This is commonly referred to as deferred publication (that is, the ETD will only appear in full text in the repository after a prescribed period) and may be appropriate when you want to prepare work for publication from your ETD.
Your supervisor, with your approval, can request a deferment of your thesis/dissertation, prior to graduation, for 6, 12 or 24 months from the date of conferment of your degree. Once determined, this period of deferment cannot be extended. The metadata describing the thesis/dissertation and the abstract will be available in OpenUCT immediately after conferment of degree.
The publication of MBA minor dissertations will also be deferred for 6, 12 or 24 months from the date of conferment of the degree, where company in-house information had been provided on the basis that it would not enter the public domain for a prescribed period. Read more in the Guidelines for OpenUCT, item 3 (i) and 3 (ii).
My research findings are sensitive and the data is confidential. I do not want my ETD available in OpenUCT
Research findings should be in the public domain, but in rare instances, if the findings are sensitive, the ETD will not be published in OpenUCT. The Senate Executive Committee (SEC) has to approve this recommendation by the faculty’s ethics committee. A hard copy will to be placed in the UCT Libraries’ Special Collections. This copy will not be circulated. A decision will be made by SEC whether the metadata and abstract will be published in OpenUCT or not. Read more in the Guidelines for OpenUCT, item 3 (iv).
If a mini thesis or research paper is 60 credits, then it will not be added to OpenUCT. Read more in the Guidelines for OpenUCT, item 2.5
Isn’t it true that having my ETD freely available online can reduce my chances of securing a book deal and/or publishing portions as journal articles?
It should be noted that the thesis/dissertation is an artefact of the examination process. If you are concerned that having your thesis/dissertation online would impact your ability to later publish from it, studies of publisher practices have shown that this is not the case. Publishers recognise that work described in theses/dissertations is often preliminary and may require additional research and writing before it can be submitted to the journal. In a 2011 Publisher's Survey, only 6% of monograph publishers and 3% of journal editors would "never" consider a work derived from a publicly available ETD. If you have concerns, you can defer your thesis/dissertation for up to two years.
It is difficult to prevent plagiarism of print or ETDs effectively but it is easier to detect plagiarism when theses/dissertations are made available online. It is possible to find text snippets by entering them into a search engine, such as Google, and plagiarism detection software like Turnitin compares work against freely available internet sources such as open access theses/dissertations.
The Libraries cannot revise or replace ETDs that have been accepted as the final approved research output. In such instances, the Libraries would have to be instructed by an appropriate authority, such as the Dean in the case of a Masters’ or the Doctoral Degrees Board in the case of a doctoral degree, to allow a student to make changes to the version published on the repository.
No, Masters and PhD students do not directly deposit their thesis or dissertation into OpenUCT. They have to submit their electronic version online to the PeopleSoft Student Administration Self-service functionality. Download the student help document for this process. If you have problems with your online submission to PeopleSoft, email email@example.com